Man evicted from shipping container home after 30 years due to no planning permission

·3-min read
Steve Gibbons, 65, lives in the container at his three-acre Lighthouse Farm at St Brides on the Welsh coast at Newport, Gwent. (Wales News Service)
Steve Gibbons, 65, lives in the container at his three-acre Lighthouse Farm at St Brides on the Welsh coast at Newport, Gwent. (Wales News Service)

A man who has lived in a home made from shipping containers for 30 years has been given six months to leave because he did not have planning permission.

Stephen Gibbons, 65, brought up his four children in the property he built at his three-acre Lighthouse Farm at St Brides, Gwent, on the Welsh coast.

But he now has to vacate the premises after Newport council’s planning committee argued he had changed the use of his land to a mix-used facility without getting permission.

This week, the planning inspector ruled in the council’s favour, Wales Online reported.

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A dad has been ordered to tear down his family home of 30 years - after planners ruled it had been built in secret. 

Stephen Gibbons, 65, brought up his four children in the seafront home he build out of old shipping containers. 

Mr Gibbons built the house near a lighthouse on family farmland used for grazing cows, horses and pigs. 

But he has been ordered to remove the structure after a council ruled it was a
Gibbons has been ordered to tear down his family home of 30 years. (Wales News Service)

Gibbons has been ordered to remove the structure after a council argued it was a "concealed dwelling" built without planning permission.

He admitted he had never applied to change the use of the land, but said he didn’t understand what they meant when they said he was utilising it differently.

He argued he should have been allowed to stay due to the time he had lived there.

Gibbons said: "This has taken 30 years of love and care. What is the sense in me destroying it now."

He added: “When they say I’m using it for other uses, what do they mean? Every tool I’ve got is for the farm.

“I’ve fixed one tractor. I don’t mend vehicles. What do they want me to do, use a broken tractor?”

"I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve got a house with my ex but I can’t live with her can I?”

“It is upsetting, of course it is. I’ve got pictures of my kids living here when they were knee high.”

On the site are numerous shipping containers – most of them full of hay bales and tools which Gibbons says are purely for his land.

Gibbons said Lighthouse Farm was bought in 1990 by his father off the neighbour and he bought the land for cattle and horses with no intention to live there.

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The container is decorated with ornaments and décor and includes three living rooms, one bedroom, and a bathroom. (Wales News Service)
The container is decorated with ornaments and décor and includes three living rooms, one bedroom, and a bathroom. (Wales News Service)

The farm is reached by gates halfway down a country lane and the container is decorated with ornaments and décor and includes three living rooms, one bedroom, and a bathroom.

From the outside, it looks like a line-up of grey and blue rusting shipping containers, but a hallway leads to other living spaces within each container.

It has highly polished wooden tables and dining chairs, leather furniture, and many statue decorations with running hot water in the shower room.

Councillor James Clarke, cabinet member for strategic planning, housing and regulation, said: “I’m pleased that Planning and Environmental Wales agreed with the council’s assessment that this structure was erected without permission and deliberately concealed in order to bypass planning regulations.

"Planning regulations are in place for good reasons. They seek to protect all of us against inappropriate development and this decision demonstrates that deliberate acts to deceive and mislead will be found out.

"The council will take enforcement action against anyone who deliberately breaches the rules in this manner.”